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Monday 23 April 2018

3.55 Epsom, Wednesday, April 25

In the Investec City and Suburban Handicap (3.55) at Epsom on Wednesday, Anythingtoday remains 8lb higher in the weights than when winning a 0-90 contest at Bath last August, but he only had to be pushed clear to win convincingly and his subsequent placed form at Goodwood and Newbury suggested that his current mark of 98 is by no means prohibitive. The Zoffany gelding was having his first run since October, and his first for David O’Meara, when only fifth of nine, beaten 4 lengths, behind Duke Of Bronte at Chelmsford earlier this month. Understandably, after a 180-day break, he ran as if in need of the race, but showed enough to suggest he’s at least as good as ever and, granted David O’Meara’s knack for improving horses he acquires from other trainers, could be well handicapped.

Arguably his best run last season came in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap, over today’s distance, at Newbury last September, where he stayed on to finish third, beaten a length and a head, behind Brorocco and Fidaawy. That performance came on good going, but both previous turf wins came with cut in the ground so, back on rain-softened turf, off a handicap mark just 1lb higher than at Newbury and with the benefit of his recent Chelmsford outing, he looks to have every chance of resuming winning ways. Granted luck in running, he can make the trek from North Yorkshire worthwhile.

Selection: Epsom 3.55 Anythingtoday to win

Monday 16 April 2018

Quixall Crossett: Rarely The Bridesmaid

Not without good reason is horse racing known as the “Sport of Kings” and, although racehorse ownership is no longer the preserve of the upper echelons of society, buying and keeping a thoroughbred can be eye-wateringly expensive. According to the Racehorse Owners’ Association, it costs £20,000 a year, on average, to keep a horse in training and owners can expect a typical return on investment of just 20%. Of course, the old adage, “It costs as much to train a bad horse as a good one”, so bear a thought for the owners of horses that never win and, rarely, if ever, trouble the judge.

One such horse – in fact, arguably the worst horse in the history of British racing – was Quixall Crossett, a bay gelding bred and trained by Ted Caine at Fangdale Beck, North Yorkshire. The son of unheralded sire Beverley Boy made his debut in a National Hunt Flat Race at Catterick in February, 1990, finishing tailed off last of 18 finishers. In 102 subsequent starts over regulation hurdles and fences, he suffered 102 defeats, finishing second just twice and third six times.

The closest he ever came to winning was when, at the age of 13, he was second of four finishers, beaten 2 lengths, behind 2/9 favourite in a novices’ chase at Wetherby in May, 1998, although even then he was “soon well outpaced”. He did, however, become the first horse in the history of British racing to record 100 successive defeats, when pulled up in a maiden chase at Southwell in July, 2001.

In his final race, a novices’ handicap chase at Ayr in November, 2001, Quixall Crossett raced from 30lb out of the handicap, including 10lb overweight, and was tailed off when trying to refuse and unseating his rider at the fifth last fence. Variously dismissed as “thoroughly irresolute” and a “seriously slow maiden in danger of becoming a folk hero” by the racing press, Quixall Crossett earned just £8,502 in prize money in a career that lasted for 11 years.

Tuesday 3 April 2018

3.15 Wolverhampton, Thursday, April 5

The Handicap (3.15) on Thursday is the best race on the card at the West Midlands track, in terms of class, and may present Lexington Times with an opportunity to improve upon his reappearance sixth at Newcastle 16 days ago. Ruth Carr’s 6-year-old was having his first run since wind surgery in October and, having made smooth headway approaching the furlong marker, briefly met trouble in running a could only keep on at the same pace to finish sixth of 12, beaten 3½ lengths.

With that run under his belt and, hopefully, a clear run this time, he doesn’t look badly handicapped on the pick of his form and, while he’s yet to win on Tapeta, he appears to handle surface well enough. The Paco Boy gelding won a 0-80 contest, over 6 furlongs, at York in July off today’s mark and, while he takes a slight step back up in class, he has plenty of form to suggest that he’s attractively weighted. Jockey Jack Garrity has a 3-12 (25%) strike rate on the all-weather for Ruth Carr – who, in turn, in 1-5 at Wolverhampton – this year, so the statistics are fairly encouraging.

Selection Wolverhampton 3.15 Lexington Times to win 10/1